Have you made these parenting mistakes?
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Mommy Confessions1 of 13
By Alison Singh Gee
We're all human, so mistakes are inevitable. But if you're a parent and children are involved, the stakes are higher. Who hasn't either lost their temper or simply let their guard down and said or done something that you almost immediately regret? Fortunately, it's never too late to modify your parenting ways. Here, real moms confess their worst parenting mistakes and experts offer their advice on how to deal with the aftermath and move forward.
Losing Battle2 of 13
Confession: "Despite my best efforts, I often fight with my husband in front of my kids. During a really bad blow out, I even threw a bottle of water at their dad. My elementary school daughters stood there, shrieking at me to stop. I don't think they've ever recovered. What do you think I can do?"
Damage Control3 of 13
Expert Advice: "Disagreements are part of any close relationship, but when arguments escalate and anger gets out of control, it is scary for all involved—especially children," says Dr. Lisa Staab, a child psychologist. "It's important to communicate to your child that you realize your behavior was wrong, and that you are working on getting better control of your anger. Let them know that all parents disagree sometimes, but that you and your husband are trying to work through disagreements in a helpful way."
BFF Blunder4 of 13
Confession: "My daughter and I always treated each other like best friends, and so I off-loaded on her about the problems I was having with my husband (her father!). I told her way too much information. I think she's now pulling away from me because she intuitively knows I've crossed too many emotional lines. How can I get my daughter back?"
Damage Control5 of 13
Expert Advice: "A relationship between parent and child is exactly that: a relationship between a parent and child and not one between friends," says Christine Gross-Loh, Ph.D, and author of Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us. "The good news is that you recognize this. Make a fresh start today: Let your daughter know you are there and interested in what's going on in her life if she wants to share."
Parenting Fail6 of 13
Confession: "When my son brought back a 73 percent on his big end-of-year math test, I shrieked at him at full volume on the schoolyard for about five minutes. It wasn't the first time."
Damage Control7 of 13
Expert Advice: It's easy to get frustrated—and feel worried or helpless—when kids don't seem to do as well in school as we think they can, says Gross-Loh. "Remember that what's really important isn't how he does on one test, but how well he understands what he's learning. When you're both calm, sit down with him and go over the math test to see what he needs help with."
Anger Management8 of 13
Confession: "Whenever I was tired or angry, I would smack my boys on the hand or leg. I always apologized later and explained that smacking is not a good thing and I only did this because I was angry—it had nothing to do with me not loving them. I had three kids under three at home and never used day care or nannies, so at times things got a little too much for me. But now that they're teenagers, I'm a little scared about how this might play out."
Damage Control9 of 13
Expert Advice: "What's past is past; concentrate now on modeling to your kids that hitting is never OK, and that there are always gentler ways to resolve conflict," says Gross-Loh, who adds that yelling at your children (as many parents do in similar situations) wouldn't have made things better. "According to a recent study, yelling is apparently just as bad as hitting," she says.
TV Troubles10 of 13
Confession: "It was a long hot summer and I gave my daughters access to cable TV. They watched Katy Perry videos and other sexually suggestive music videos nonstop. One afternoon at the pool, my 10-year-old came up to me in tiny denim shorts and a bikini top and said, 'Mommy, do I look like a California Gurl?' She also insisted on tanning her midriff. I can't keep them away from all media. Did I damage them with all these sexy music videos?"
Damage Control11 of 13
Expert Advice: "When your child views something that may have inappropriate content, one way you can address it immediately is to have a dialogue with your child about what they just watched," says Staab. In the example of the Katy Perry video, ask her what she thought of it and how she thinks girls should dress. "Keeping an open dialogue and clear rules about what you expect from your children can help you minimize the negative effects of media and help your child make better decisions."
Driven Mad12 of 13
Confession: "I still cringe when I think of it: One day my daughter Lilly was taking too long to gather up her things so we could leave. I got mad, walked out of the house and started the car as if I was going to leave her behind. She came running, crying hysterically. 'Mama, don't leave me!' She sounded so gutted that I had to restrain myself from crying in front of her. The next morning she said, 'Mama, remember when you were going to leave me but you couldn't leave me because you're my mama and you love me?'"
Damage Control13 of 13
Expert Advice: Everyone with a toddler can understand how frustrating it is when you try to get them out the door in a hurry, says Staab. "But your daughter's response the next day reflects that you have shown her a tremendous amount of love, and this one event will not scar her," she explains. "You can save yourself some frustration giving yourself extra time to get ready, and by giving your child a structured routine to get out the door."
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